The Twickenham Museum
People : Landowners and Gentry

Edmund Cooke
Gentleman
c1585 - 1642

The earliest record yet found of Edmund Cooke is his marriage to Francis (sic) Hamerton on 17 November 1610 at St Mary’s Church in Twickenham. Francis may have been a local girl, although this has not been established. The only record of a Hamerton family in Twickenham at this time is for the baptisms at St Mary’s of three children of Henry and Judith between 1614 and 1621. An Edward Hamerton, son of William Hamerton, a Groom of the Queen’s Stable, is recorded as renewing his lease of Upper Lodge in Bushy Park in 1579/80. He was buried at Hampton in 1594.

Nine children were born to the Cookes between 1611 and 1629. Edmund, baptised on 12 October was buried the following day. Martha, baptised on 9 October 1613 was buried on 27 March 1614. Elizabeth (1615), Mary(1617), John & Martha (twins, 1620), Joseph (1623), Thomas (1626) and Francis (1629) followed.

In 1622 Edmund was elected a member of the Vestry in succession to Alexander Prescott who had died that year. He continued as a member for 20 years: the last record of his attendance noted on 12 June 1642.

Detail of Glover's map showing Whitton village in 1635. Note: North is towards bottom right-hand corner.

Where the family lived during the first years of their marriage is not known, but in 1632 Edmund bought two small cottages and land in Whitton from Ursula, widow of Sir Simon Harvey, and built a substantial dwelling there. This house was recorded in 1664 as the fourth largest in Twickenham parish with 20 hearths. Known as Whitton Hall, it is marked on Moses Glover's map of 1635 together with three other properties, owned by: Sir John Suckling, Henry Sanders, Bailiff of the Hundred and Martin Boothby. It was demolished in 1709 to be replaced by the mansion built by Sir Godfrey Kneller, later known as Kneller Hall.

In November 1641 Edmund, claiming to be in good health, wrote his will (PCC Prob11/191), leaving all his properties in Twickenham, Whitton, Isleworth and Hounslow to his wife Francis and making cash bequests of £200 and £100 respectively to his sons John and Joseph. These were conditional upon their relinquishing any claim to his property: a house bought from William Childe was mentioned. His married daughter Elizabeth Hardnett was bequeathed “the diamonds which are in my iron chest and two other jewels which I redeemed which heretofore were her husbands to be sold by my executrix for her best advantage”. A procedure which suggests that Elizabeth's husband Joseph had been in some financial difficulty earlier. Their marriage had taken place at St Mary's on 9 May 1635. Edmund, their first son, was baptised on 17 June 1636.

Edmund's other grandson, Joseph Hardnett, was to receive £4 on attaining the age of twenty-one. Daughters Elizabeth, Francis Markham and niece Frances Cooke were to receive various items of silver. The will was proved the following year, but Edmund was not buried in Twickenham. He appears to have died elsewhere, perhaps killed in an early battle of the Civil War: Powick Bridge on 23 September. Edgehill on 23 October, or even the nearby Battle of Brentford on 12 December 1642. But this is speculation. He was certainly absent, or dead, by 29 March 1643 when it was recorded in a Vestry meeting that: Mistris Cooke of Whitton shall hold her seat solely to herselfe and her familie.

Widow Francis died and was buried at St Mary's on 19 October 1660, probably having lived at Whitton for 50 years, She had, in 1653, disposed of her “mansion” to Charles Pitcarne, son of Andrew Pitcarne the builder of York House in Twickenham. However, although assessed for rates in 1642 and 1643, she had moved out by the following year. The house seems to have remained empty for a number of years and her name does not appear in any further rating lists: she may have gone to live with a member of the extended family living nearby. Joseph Cooke, probably her son born in 1623, was listed as owning a house and 6 acres of land in the survey of the parish carried out in 1661. Although this property was let to a widow Larnsborough it shows that the family retained property in the area.

further reading

W A Rosewarne, Whitton, a brief History, unpublished typescript deposited in the Local Studies Library, Richmond-upon-Thames

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